Have you ever wondered what it would be like to disconnect from all telecommunications and social media for a meaningful length of time?
As the owner of a few businesses, my iPad and iPhone travel with me wherever I go. It is not unusual for me to answer at least fifteen phone calls, over twenty texts and emails in a 24 hour period. This has become to some extent business as usual.
I would always take my technology with me on holidays for fear of losing control of my businesses.
My posts constantly preach simplicity and learning to quieten the mind to alleviate stress from our lives. While I personally spend a considerable amount of time meditating and reducing daily stresses, I have become increasingly aware of the amount of time my tech-connection time has been growing steadily over the last two years.
My family has just returned from a seven day cruise of Far North Queensland. I decided a few weeks before the holiday that I was going to have a complete technology blackout during this holiday period. I gave my iPad and iPhone to one of my trusted flying instructors to look after for the seven days. They were asked to call my wife’s phone only if an extreme emergency occurred (thankfully it didn’t!)
For seven days I never looked at a phone or a computer screen.
Below I have outlined some of the discoveries I learnt during this time.
It was the best holiday I have had so far!
All my previous holidays involved an element of working, either on the phone or online, and this robbed me of totally enjoying the holiday with my family. The distraction of phoning and emailing stopped me from enjoying the present moment.
I focused more on my wife and children
As I had no work distractions, I listened and was more attentive to both my children and my wife.
I simply was not distracted when talking and playing with my children. I was not thinking about that email or text that I just received.
I relaxed more!
When you’re waiting for a response call, text or email you tend not to relax fully. This once again robs us of our present moment. For some reason when you know you have a text or email to respond to, you tend to think of nothing else until you have responded to it. Removing the device altogether so you do not have the temptation to check, is the best way I know to break this cycle.
I went to bed earlier!
I know for a lot of entrepreneurs and individuals, technology keeps them up late at night. With no internet to surf I tended to go to bed earlier and felt a lot more awake the next day. And let’s be totally honest. 90% of surfing the net is a complete waste of time!
I read more books!
I read a few books I had been wanting to read for a long time. Time on the internet or the phone was replaced with reading (real books!)
I spent more time meditating and building my relationship with God
Keeping up with the enormous workload that multimedia devices create, tends to limit the amount of time we have to think about God. You need quiet uninterrupted time alone to listen to the voice of God. Being surrounded by the beautiful open ocean and tropical islands definitely helped, but the lack of telecommunications was definitely a huge positive.
I had more time to think critically and creatively about the future!
When we are bombarded with information, our brains tend to slow and our creative energies tend to decrease. The less online interaction I have, the more creative ideas work through me. Creative inspiration occurs best when we have few or little distractions.
I learnt that my businesses and life will not stop if I don’t check my phone, texts and emails every single hour
When I was a manager for a large insurance company, I used to check my emails and phone almost on the hour and action any work that needed to be done. This was quite exhausting until I stumbled on the book, The 4-hour Work Week.
While not a new concept, Tim Ferris revisited the idea of batch processing. So I took his advice and only checked my emails twice a day. Firstly in the morning then half an hour before I finished. I spent 6 hours less per day checking my emails and I was just as efficient.
However, when you have your own business you tend to be more paranoid about customer service and like to be quick to respond to emails and phone calls.
This seven day communication break has taught me that there is no reason I cannot do the same batch processing technique with my business. So from today I will only check my emails twice each day.
Everyone needs at least one day per week disconnected
My mind is so much clearer now that I have had a week to disconnect. I have now decided to have a complete communications blackout every Sunday. I plan to put my iPhone and iPad into a drawer on Saturday night and not look at either device until Monday morning.
If you have not spent any time without a phone or the internet, may I suggest you spend just one day without them, to see how it will change your life.
I can guarantee the world will not stop without you checking your latest messages or Facebook posts. We are not designed to be connected and distracted at all times.
Do yourself, your family and the world a favour and tune out at least once a week so you can tune in to your real self; you won’t regret it!